Review of Institute for Excellence in Writing’s High School Essay Intensive

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High school writing can be overwhelming with preparing for SAT and college applications so I was excited to receive High School Essay Intensive from Institute for Excellence in Writing (or IEW as it is commonly known) for our family.  With three students in high school, a college-aged son and a husband who is planning on getting his Master’s degree, this program seemed like a perfect fit for our family.   We have used other programs from IEW, so I already knew my children would probably like it and it would be a good fit.  Since I already had plans for our children to do this program, I was excited for this opportunity to complete this review.  This course includes DVDs and handouts for the student use.  Ther are approximately 6.5 hours of video on the DVDs to watch.

The program consists of four different parts.  The first part, which makes up the majority of the program examines general strategies for essay writing.  This is very general in nature and goes over topics such as what an essay is, different types of essays, and other basic topics common to any type of essay a student may be called on to write.

The second part of the program goes over understanding and preparing for the NEW ACT Essay.  This section examines topics that are specific to the NEW ACT Essay.  It covers general guidelines from ACT, types of Essay prompts, deciding topics and details, and streamlined outlines.  Students and parents are encouraged to visit the NEW ACT Essay website to get additional topics for students to practice writing essays for the New ACT Essay.

The third part looks at understanding and preparing for the Redesigned SAT essay.  It examines general guidelines from the College Board, understanding a critical anaylsis essay, annotation, and templates for easy outlining.  Again, it is suggested to visit the SAT website to get additional topics for the students to practice.

The final section provides strategies for the Personal Essay.  This section includes general guidelines, types of essays and prompts, determining topics and details, along with standing out from the crowd.  This section is geared entirely towards the type of essay students may be called on to write for college applications that tells about themselves.  , The course concludes with final practice.

I decided it was best for our family to through these sections in order.  So we have been working on the General Strategies for Essay Writing.  The seminar begins with Mr. Andrew Pudewa providing some general information.  Then he goes over two different topics for the students to possibly write about for 20 minutes.  Once he reads the topics, the DVD is paused and students write for 20 minutes.  I felt this was good preparation for  timed essay writing.  My husband and oldest son finished before the 20 minutes was up.  However, my younger three could have all wrote longer.  My daughter even complained that she did not finish.

The seminar then moves into what an essay is as well as the different formats for essays. My one complaint with this part is that Mr. Pudewa is writing on a white board and I was unable to read what he wrote.  If a student has bad eyesight, this may prove problematic if watching on a television set from a distance.  I did like the fact that Mr. Pudewa encouraged notetaking.  I feel it might be helpful if students had some prior knowledge about how to take good notes, or if they may need to re-watch portions of the seminar to make sure they get everything.

This the first program from IEW my husband has done with us.  He was pleasantly surprised by how much the children enjoyed the program.  I think he was also somewhat astounded at how much our youngest (our only daughter) enjoyed writing and expressing her opinions.  He was impressed by how involved our children became in the seminar.  He also appreciated how Mr. Pudewa was able to keep the students and our children engaged.

The pictures below show what came in the kit the we received from IEW.  I like how the box keeps everything organized and is able to stand upright on my bookshelves.

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These pictures show samples of the inital timed essay some of our family wrote.

The pictures below show some of the notes members of our family took during the seminar.

If you wish to read more reviews on High School Essay Intensive, click here or on the graphic below.

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